TAIC investigating collision, ferry and recreational boat, Bay of Islands

13 Apr 2023
photo of the ferry - about 13 metres long - soon after the accident, still afloat. The port side is in splinters and the wheelhouse is destroyed. Photo of the stricken ferry, a 44' wooden construction vessel with a 'classic' look, built in 1944. View is square-on to the port side. Almost all of the port side above the waterline and forward of amidship is a mess of fractured timber and splinters, as is the wheelhouse and the forward part of the open shelter for passengers.
The ferry Waitere soon after the accident. Photo via NZ Herald

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is appealing for witnesses who saw, photographed or videoed the two vessels that collided in the Bay of Islands on Thursday 13 April 2023.

Naveen Kozhuppakalam, the Chief Investigator of Accidents, says the Commission is opening an inquiry into the accident reportedly involving the collision of a recreational boat with a passenger ferry about midway between Russell and Paihia.

“We can’t yet confirm what or why it happened, but we have heard that the master of the ferry was seriously injured and hospitalised as a result of the accident,” said Mr Kozhuppakalam. 

“TAIC is appealing for any witnesses,” said Mr Kozhuppakalam. “Getting the facts straight is vital, so we’re keen to hear as soon as possible from people who were on either vessel, anyone who saw the accident or the boats at any time in their journeys prior to the accident. 

“We’re also keen to receive any CCTV footage from businesses or homes that may have video recordings from cameras trained on that part of the Bay at that time.  

TAIC’s email address is info@taic.org.nz.

The Commission has appointed a dedicated investigation team of two, who will be travelling to the Bay of Islands as soon as practicable.

The team’s evidence collection work is broad at first to support the many routes that an investigation could follow. The initial focus is on gathering evidence that could disappear or change – not just flotsam from the impact, but also memories while they’re fresh in people’s minds.

Over the next several days, TAIC’s investigators will be seeking and recovering any wreckage where possible, securing electronic records – including photos, videos, and location data on people’s cellphones – and interviewing witnesses. 

As well as interviewing people, we are interested in the two vessels, their individual and type histories, performance, maintenance, equipment and design.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident or incident have - or are likely to have - significant implications for transport safety, or when the inquiry may allow the Commission to make findings or recommendations to improve transport safety.